März Wann wurde der Brief geschrieben? Wer war Hugo von Hofmannsthal? Wer war Francis Bacon? Was beinhaltet der Brief? Wie wird die. by Aaron Steiner. “The Letter of Lord Chandos” is a fictional letter written by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. The work was published under the title “Ein Brief” (“A. Long recognized as one of the defining texts of literary Modernism, Hofmannsthal’s “Ein Brief” (“The Letter of Lord Chandos”) remains a very.
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IT IS kind of you, my esteemed friend, to condone my two years of silence and to write to me thus. I would fain give you an answer such as you deserve, fain reveal myself to you entirely, but Chanfos do not know how to set about it.
Hardly do I know whether I am still the same person to whom your precious letter is addressed. And could I, if otherwise I am still the same person, have lost from my inner inscrutable self all traces and scars of this creation of my most intensive thinking-lost them so completely that in your letter now lying before me the title of my short treatise stares at me strange and cold? But it is my inner self that I feel bound to reveal to you-a peculiarity, a vice, a disease of my hofmannsthxl, if you like-if you are to understand that an abyss equally unbridgeable separates me from the hofmannsthl works lying seemingly ahead of me as from those behind me: I know not whether to admire more the urgency of your benevolence or the unbelievable sharpness of your memory, when you recall to me the various little projects I entertained during those days of rare enthusiasm which we shared together.
The papers bequeathed to me by my grandfather, the Duke of Exeter, concerning his negotiations with France and Portugal, offered me some foundation.
This was my most treasured plan. But what is man that he should make plans! I also toyed with other schemes.
Literary Encyclopedia | Ein Brief
These, too, your kind letter conjures up. Each one, bloated with a drop of my blood, dances before me like a weary gnat against a sombre wall whereon the bright sun of halcyon days no longer lies.
I well remember this plan. It was founded on I know not what sensual and spiritual desire: I longed to disappear in them and talk out of them with tongues. And Hofmqnnsthal longed for more. I planned to start an Apophthegmata, like chanos composed by Julius Caesar: With these I meant to combine the brilliant maxims and reflections from classical and Italian works, and anything else of intellectual adornment that appealed to me in books, in manuscripts or conversations; the arrangement, moreover, of particularly beautiful festivals and pageants, strange crimes and cases of madness, descriptions of the greatest and most characteristic architectural monuments in the Netherlands, in France and Italy; and many other things.
The whole work was to have been entitled Nosce te ipsum. The one was like the other: This explains the title which I had intended to give to this encyclopedic book. To a person susceptible to cahndos ideas, it might appear a well-designed plan of hofmannsthak Providence nrief my mind should fall from such a state of inflated arrogance into this extreme of despondency and feebleness which is now the permanent condition of my inner self. Such religious ideas, however, have no power over me: But, my dear friend, worldly ideas also evade me in a like manner.
How shall I try to describe to hofmajnsthal these strange spiritual torments, this rebounding of the fruit-branches above my outstretched cbandos, this recession of the murmuring stream from my thirsting lips? My case, in short, is briwf At first I grew by degrees incapable of discussing a loftier or more general subject in terms of hofmahnsthal everyone, fluently and without hesitation, is wont to avail himself.
I experienced an inexplicable distaste hofjannsthal so much as uttering the words spirit, soul, or body. I found it impossible to express an opinion on the affairs at Court, the events in Parliament, or whatever you wish. This was not motivated by any form of personal deference for you know that my candour borders on imprudencebut because the abstract terms of which the tongue must avail itself as a matter of course in order to voice a judgment-these terms crumbled in my mouth like mouldy fungi.
Actually, I did feel myself growing pale, and with a violent pressure on my forehead I left the child to herself, slammed the door behind me, and began to recover to some extent only after a brief gallop over the lonely pasture. Gradually, however, these attacks of anguish spread like a corroding rust. Even in familiar and humdrum conversation all the opinions which are generally expressed with ease and sleep-walking assurance became so doubtful that I had to cease altogether taking part in such talk.
This affair has turned out well or ill for this or that person; Sheriff N. All this seemed as indemonstrable, as mendacious and hollow as could be.
My mind compelled me to view all things occurring in such conversations from an uncanny closeness. As once, through a magnifying glass, I had seen a piece of skin on my little finger look like a field full of holes and furrows, so I now perceived human beings and their actions. Single words floated round me; they congealed into eyes which stared at me and into which I was forced to stare back-whirlpools which gave me vertigo and, reeling incessantly, led into the void.
I tried to rescue myself from this plight by seeking refuge in the spiritual world of the Ancients. Plato I avoided, for I dreaded the perilousness of his imagination. Through the harmony of their clearly defined and orderly ideas I hoped to regain my health. But I was unable to find my way to them. These ideas, I understood them well: I saw their wonderful interplay rise before me like magnificent fountains upon which played golden balls.
I could hover around them and watch how they played, one with the other; but they were concerned only with each other, and the most prof6und, most personal quality of my thinking remained excluded from this magic circle.
So once more I escaped into the open. Since that time I have been leading an existence which I fear you can hardly imagine, so lacking in spirit and thought is its flow: It is not easy for me to indicate wherein these good moments subsist; once again words desert me.
I cannot expect you to understand me without examples, and I must plead your indulgence for their absurdity. A pitcher, a harrow abandoned in a field, a dog in the sun, a neglected cemetery, a cripple, a peasant’s hut-all these can become the vessel of my revelation. Even the distinct image of an absent object, in fact, can acquire the mysterious function of being filled to the brim with this silent but suddenly rising flood of divine sensation.
Recently, for instance, I had given the order for a copious supply of rat-poison to be scattered in the milk cellars of one of my dairy-farms. Towards evening I had gone off for a ride and, as you can imagine, thought no more about it. As I was trotting along over the freshly-ploughed land, nothing more alarming in sight than a scared covey of quail and, in the distance, the great sun sinking over the undulating fields, there suddenly loomed up before me the vision of that cellar, resounding with the death-struggle of a mob of rats.
I felt everything within me: But why seek again for words which I have foresworn! I assure you, my friend, I carried this chandod within me, and the vision of burning Carthage, too; hormannsthal there was more, something more divine, more bestial; and it was the Present, the fullest, most exalted Present.
There was a mother, surrounded by her young in their agony of death; but her gaze was cast neither toward the dying nor upon the merciless walls of stone, but into the void, or through the void into Infinity, accompanying this gaze with a gnashing of teeth!
Forgive this description, but do not think that it was pity I felt. For if you did, my example would have been poorly chosen. It was far more and far brkef than pity: What was it that made me want to break into words which, I know, were I to find them, would force to their knees those cherubim in whom I do not believe? What made me turn silently away from this place? Even now, after weeks, catching sight of that nut-tree, I pass it by with a shy sidelong glance, for I am loath to dispel the memory of the miracle hovering there round the trunk, loath to scare away the celestial shudders that still linger about the shrubbery in this neighbourhood!
In these moments an insignificant creature-a dog, a rat, a beetle, a crippled apple tree, a lane winding over the hill, a moss-covered stone, mean more to me than the most beautiful, abandoned mistress of the happiest night. These mute and, on occasion, inanimate creatures rise toward me with such an abundance, such a presence of love, that my enchanted eye can find nothing in sight void of life.
Even my own heaviness, the general torpor of my brain, seems to acquire a meaning; I experience in and around me a blissful, never-ending interplay, and among the objects playing against one another there is not one into which I cannot flow. Apart from these strange occurrences, which, incidentally, I hardly know whether to ascribe to the mind or the body, I live a life of barely believable vacuity, and have difficulties in concealing from my wife this inner stagnation, and from my servants the indifference wherewith I contemplate the affairs of my estates.
I am rebuilding a chandod of bbrief house and am capable of conversing occasionally with hofmannsthzl architect concerning the progress of his work; I administer my estates, and my tenants and employees may find me, perhaps, somewhat more taciturn but no less benevolent than of yore.
None of them, standing with doffed cap before the door of his house while I ride by of an evening, will have any idea that my glance, which he is wont respectfully hofmanhsthal catch, glides with longing over the rickety boards under which he searches for earthworms for fishing-bait; that it plunges through the latticed window into the stuffy chamber where, in a corner, the low bed with its chequered linen seems forever to be waiting for someone to die or another to be born; that my eye lingers long upon the ugly puppies or upon a cat stealing stealthily among the flower-pots; and that it seeks among all the poor and hofmxnnsthal objects of a peasant’s life for the one whose insignificant form, whose hofmanjsthal being, whose mute existence, hofmannsrhal become the source of that mysterious, wordless, and boundless ecstasy.
For my unnamed blissful feeling is sooner brought about by a distant lonely shepherd’s fire than by the vision of a starry sky, sooner by the chirping of the last dying cricket when the autumn wind chases wintry clouds across the deserted fields than by the majestic booming of an organ.
And in my mind I compare myself from time to time with the orator Crassus, of whom it is reported that he grew so excessively enamoured of a tame lamprey-a dumb, apathetic, red-eyed fish in his ornamental pond-that it became the talk of the town; and when one day in the Senate Domitius reproached him for having shed tears over the death of this fish, attempting thereby to make him appear a fool, Crassus answered, “Thus have I done over the death of my fish as you have over the death of neither your first nor your second wife.
I know not how oft this Crassus with his lamprey enters mv mind as a mirrored image of my Self, reflected across the abyss of centuries.
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But not on account of the hofmannxthal he gave Domitius. The answer brought the laughs on his side, hofmannxthal the whole affair turned into a jest. I, however, am deeply affected by the affair, which would have remained the same even had Domitius shed bitter tears of sorrow over his wives.
Now and then at night the image of this Crassus is in my brain, like a splinter round which everything festers, throbs, and boils. It is then that I feel as though I myself were about to ferment, to effervesce, to foam and to sparkle. And the whole thing is a kind of feverish thinking, but thinking in a medium more immediate, more liquid, more glowing than words.
It, too, forms whirlpools, but of a sort that do not seem to lead, as the whirlpools of language, into the chandow, but into myself and into the deepest womb of peace. I have troubled you excessively, my dear friend, with this extended description of an inexplicable condition which is wont, as a rule, to remain locked up in me. You were kind enough to express your dissatisfaction that no book written by me reaches you any more, “to compensate for the loss of our relationship.
Fain had I the power to compress in this, presumably my last, letter to Francis Bacon all the love and gratitude, all the unmeasured admiration, which I harbour in my heart for the greatest benefactor of my mind, for the foremost Englishman of my day, and which I shall harbour therein until death break it asunder.
This 22 August, A.